Love Made Her Do It: Music is at the core of Kat Von D’s universe |
Love Made Her Do It: Music is at the core of Kat...

Love Made Her Do It: Music is at the core of Kat Von D’s universe

Photo by Travis Shinn

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | September 22, 2021

Kat Von D has played several roles — tattoo artist, singer, performer, entrepreneur. Today, she’s playing mom.

Her son with author-artist Rafael Reyes, Leafar Von Drachenberg Reyes, starts pounding at the piano, about which she laughs.

“I’m sorry,” Von D says with a laugh.

Quickly, she speaks to Leafar in Spanish, giggles and returns to the phone with a deep sigh.

Born in Mexico, Von D responses similarly when asked about a certain guest vocalist on her debut album, “Love Made Me Do It.”

“Peter Murphy,” she starts about the goth godfather who appears on the song “Protected.” “Just to be in the same sentence as he is amazing, let alone doing a song together. It was a definitely a dream come true. His voice is so epic. It’s even better now.”

“Protected” and “Enough” were the two songs on the record that Von D did not pen, she says. The lyrics and melody on “Protected” were written by Murphy, who was unfamiliar with Von D before the session.

“It wasn’t like he watched my TV shows,” she adds with a laugh. “He liked my voice. That’s such a huge compliment for me. I love putting his voice against the wave of synth. I’m a fan of analog synth. Peter Murphy fans will be pleasantly surprised by this. It’s not going to sound like Bauhaus or his solo stuff.”

“Protected” is among the songs Von D will perform at The Van Buren on Monday, September 27.

“Every time I come through Phoenix, the energy is great,” she says. “They’re avid fans of music. I’m actually really excited about playing The Van Buren and meeting all the fans. I stalked The Van Buren’s Instagram to look at the stage and wrap my mind around what’s coming.

“I’ve always been a very visual person. One of my biggest pet peeves at shows are performers who stand at the mic doing nothing. I want to make sure the music is presented in a beautiful way.”

Von D will be joined by a contortionist, Brynn Route, who is “part of the storytelling,” as a few songs were written for her. Visuals were prepared by Linda Strawberry, an American artist, director, editor and musician who works closely with Billy Corgan.

“We have a lot of the same inspirations,” she says about Corgan, the Smashing Pumpkins’ founder. “We love the beautiful things and the darker side of beauty. I’m excited to put that together for the live shows.”

Music is at the core of Von D’s universe, she says. A classically trained pianist, Von D practiced for two hours a day. She strengthened her voice under the tutelage of Ken Tamplin six days a week.

“The piano is my best friend and most consistent thing in my life — more so than my own family,” she says. “I play almost every single day. When you look back everything I’ve done, it’s all inspired, at its core, by music. I’ve always loved it.”

In 2012, she began writing with Grammy Award-nominated Linda Perry. Following this experience, Von D continued to create on her own and retreated to London in 2014 to record “Love Made Me Do It.”

Accompanying her on the album and on tour are Gregg Foreman aka Mr. Pharmacist (synth 1/Cat Power, The Gossip), Sammi Doll (synth 2/IAMX), Dave Parley (drums/Prayers) and Brynn Route (contortionist).

They moved into a bungalow cottage on her property, lived together and finished the record. Dan Haigh of Gunship handled mixing. To shape her songs, she recruited other collaborators like Dave Grohl, Linda Perry, Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio), Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails), Ladyhawke and Charo (yes, that Charo).

Music came easy to Von D.

“I didn’t feel any challenges with writing,” she says. “I had so much to write about. I wrote about 22 songs. There are 12 on it, and the other songs are really cool. I’m entertaining the idea of revisiting them as well.

“I’m already writing album two. Once we get through this tour, I’m going to dive back into production and go on tour again.”

The song writing may have been smooth, but the road to releasing it was bumpy.

“My album has been very long awaited,” she says. “I wrote it 10 years ago. Life got in the way of finishing it — filming a TV show, being on book tours — I was putting it on the back burner.

“I was able to sell my makeup line (to Kendo) a year and a half ago. I said, ‘Let’s make some room for this music and go on tour.’ Then, we were locked down and our worlds were turned upside down.”

When Von D looks back at her career, she says she’s accomplished so much. She’s learned volumes, in terms of production, and is looking forward to the jaunt.

“I love listening to music, and I love seeing it,” she adds. “I appreciate good production when it comes to stage shows. It’s more than just a live show. It’s an experience.”

Kat Von D w/Prayers

When: 8 p.m. Monday, September 27

Where: The Van Buren, 401 W. Van Buren Street, Phoenix

Cost: $30 to $35; 13 and older